Friday, October 3, 2008

You Can Never Go Home Again

Growing up, I was always perplexed whenever hearing some variant of the quote "you can never go home again". Obviously someone was greatly mistaken. If I visited somewhere, going back home was achieved with absolute simplicity; get back in a car or an airplane and Bam!, I was back in Wichita. Maybe the person who generated this quote had something happen which precluded their neo-enlightenment on the shortcomings of their hometown. Now that I have lived in California for almost five years, however, I realize that a person would be hard pressed to find truer words that have ever been spoken.

Only now do I realize the fundamental error in my previous logic. In order to realize the difficulty in leaving home I had to actually leave home, i.e., move away. It's one thing to travel somewhere else; it's a completely different ballgame to pick up and start a new life somewhere else. During my time in college, I saw the writing on the wall and realized that in order to start a career it would probably be in my best interest to move away from Wichita. Little did I know that an opportunity to do just that would present itself. Looking back, I now realize the magnitude of a single decision. In the span of two weeks, I went from being a degreed Mechanical Engineer working at Pizza Hut and living in his Dad's basement to living in California working as an engineer. Talk about doing a complete 180.

The first year was not too bad. I had some family members come out to visit me, and going back home felt just like any other time I had left. That second year, however, was the turning point. After a couple years of being on my own, I had started to become set in my ways of doing things. Little by little, I had started to forget streets and places that had once been as famaliar as a part of my own body. Now I have become so entrenched in my lifestyle that any more than a few days at a time and I begin to yearn for the comforts afforded by California. Driving is a chore when visiting home, because going anymore than 5 mph over the speed limit is asking for a ticket, rather than being the absolute slowest car in a twenty-mile radius. Instead of doing whatever I want to, I have to take into consideration other people who might want to see me during my annual pilgrimage back home. You could go so far as to say that Christmas vacation is actually more work for me than my actual job. I have to deal with however many hundreds of thousands of people are flying in and out of LAX to fly half way across the country only to spend my time driving between the various factions of my family who want to see me, but insist on me making the effort to travel to arrange a meeting (even though I just traveled half-way across the country).

Now, I could put my foot down and say "enough". The end result would that a lot of people would be hurt, and I would look like a bad guy. In fact, I am ready to stop going back home until someone comes out to visit me since my first year out here. While I realize everyone is still back home, I am tired of being the only one who is expected to make an effort to shoulder (both the time and financial) burden of traveling.; it's time that folks realize I am out here to stay. There may come a time in the not so distant future when I will not be able to come back. Someone will have to come out here and accept that I have built my own life, and my time in Wichita is only a distant memory to be recounted in stories when I'm old and gray.

No comments: